My gift to many friends and family members last Christmas was four hours of labor. Most have still not taken me up on it. (Better get me before I start grad school!) I helped my brother Benjamin move a huge load of trash and I helped Grandpa Bob learn how to get on the internet. My friends Mo’ and Vangie pooled their hours and asked me to give their four year old son, Akira (known to friends as Zap, or Zapper), swimming lessons.

I didn’t learn to swim until I was nine because some dummy coerced me into putting my face under water when I was four. It freaked me out. When I did learn to swim it was by hanging out at a pool with my parents, playing with them and Ely, slowly testing my limits. So I teach swimming by playing with kids. I do not push past comfort zones. I appreciate how clearly Akira communicates his edge. If he gets a little scared, he has me take him to the side or he gets out for a minute, with no sense of embarrassment. He is a sweet kid. I love spending time with him. Already we have several games that he really likes: finding each heater jet in the shallow end, playing firehose with a pool noodle, having me tow him slowly around by a pool noodle (“OK, now go west… now north… Oh! That’s north?”), and today, pushing off the ladder to me. Today was our third lesson. These photos are from our second. There aren’t any action shots because I’m in the pool with him whenever he’s in water where he can’t touch–except the photo of him up to his lips. That may not look like an action shot, but that was him pushing himself to the limit.

 

Akira In the Car

Akira In the Car

Walking In 1

Walking In 1

Walking In 2

Walking In 2

At the Cold Pool

At the Cold Pool

Warm Pool 1

Warm Pool 1

Warm Pool 2

Warm Pool 2

Up To His Lips

Up To His Lips

Warm Pool 3

Warm Pool 3

Warm Pool 4

Warm Pool 4

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